I have supported the Xbox 360 ever since its was launched here in Singapore back in 2006. I guess the reason why was purely coincidental, since its launch date was on 16 March, which also happens to be my birthday, so I asked for one as a gift.
Since then, I have lost three consoles - two to the infamous “Red Ring of Death” and another to a malfunctioning DVD drive. I’m on my fourth console now and I have been using it for around three years. I fear it does not have much left in it, the DVD drive sometimes refuses to open and it makes a lot of noise reading discs. Just as well I guess, since the next-generation of gaming consoles are upon us.
I really wanted to stick with Xbox. Apart from the fact that I still have a good ten or so months on my Xbox Live Gold subscription to go, I like the Xbox controller a lot. Ergonomically, it just feels better and nicer to hold and control than the PlayStation’s. I also like some of the Xbox exclusive titles, Forza Motorsport in particular, is one of my favorites - despite their hateful practice of milking gamers of their money through DLCs.
Microsoft did not have the best of starts in this new generation of gaming consoles. At the unveiling of the Xbox One, it announced many unpopular policies, such as mandatory online “check-ins” every 24 hours and restrictions of selling and lending games. Luckily for them, they retracted on many of these, but I fear it is too late. Plus, considering that both new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will offer no backwards compatibility, maybe it's time for me to reconsider my allegiance.
Here are some key considerations.
This is a huge deal, because Sony is releasing the PlayStation 4 in Singapore in December. Just a month after its international release and before Japan even! Microsoft, on the other hand, has only stated that the Xbox One will launch in Asia in Late 2014. Let that sink in for a while. Practically, what this means is that we could be getting the console as much as a year after launch. I don’t even know what to say. And don’t think this is just Singapore, this date applies to other Asian countries and regions such as India, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea. What are they thinking?
Ah, price. One reason the Xbox 360 was able to gain considerable market share was because it was significantly cheaper than the PlayStation 3 - US$399 vs. US$499. Now, the tables have turned because it is the PlayStation 4 that is cheaper, with a launch price of US$399. The Xbox One will cost US$499, but it must be noted it will be bundled along with the Kinect sensor. Even though these prices will be invariably marked up once they come to our shores, I for one am not keen to pay an extra US$100 for the Kinect sensor. Don’t get me wrong. I admire the Kinect’s technologies and capabilities, but I just want to play games the old-school way, you know, with a controller.
There’s no hiding the fact that the Xbox One is less powerful than the PlayStation 4. In the previous generation, it could be argued that while the Xbox 360 was theoretically less powerful, it was easier for developers to harness all of its power. Not so now, since both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are powered by the same AMD APU, only that the PlayStation 4 has a more powerful graphics component and faster GDDR5 RAM.
In fact, we recently reported that Call of Duty: Ghost will only run on 720p on the Xbox One, but at 1080p on the PlayStation 4. This is true for Battlefield 4 too - the PlayStation 4 will run at 900p and the Xbox One at 720p. Although these are early days yet and it remains to be seen if there will be any appreciable difference in actual visual quality, it is irrefutable that when it comes to sheer graphics horsepower, the PlayStation 4 is superior.
With these reasons in mind, I think I’m going to ditch Microsoft and go for the Sony PlayStation 4. Sony will hold a local PlayStation 4 press conference tomorrow where they would, presumably, announce details of pricing and availability. Keeping my fingers crossed now.
Specifications are not everything. It's what you do with what you have that matters.